Content is continuously being updated as negotiations develop.

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What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is something that you create using your mind. For example, a story, an invention, an artistic work or a symbol.

Why is it important to protect my Intellectual Property?

Having the right type of intellectual property protection helps you to stop people stealing or copying:

• the names of your products or brands

• your inventions

• the design or look of your products

• things you write, make or produce.

What are the main types of Intellectual Property protection?

The main intellectual property rights cover a number of areas, including Patents for Inventions, Trade Marks, Industrial Designs and Copyright.

Patents are concerned with inventions producing a technical result – of new and improved products, processes and uses that are capable of industrial application.

Trade Marks are concerned with brand identity – principally of goods and services. They can be distinctive words, marks or other features, the purpose of which is to make a distinction in the mind of a customer between different traders, products and services.

Designs are concerned with the appearance of a product – of the whole or a part of a product – features of, in particular, shape, configuration, contours, texture or materials of the product itself not dictated by functional considerations.

Copyright is concerned with original literary works such as novels, poems and plays, musical and artistic works such as musical compositions, sound recordings and TV and radio broadcasts, software, multimedia films, drawings, maps, charts, plans, paintings, photographs and sculptures and works of architecture. Rights related to copyright include those of performing artists in their performances, producers of phonograms in their recordings, and those of broadcasters in their radio and television programs.

It should also be noted that intellectual property also encompasses such areas as know- how, trade secrets, protection of plant varieties etc. It is often the case that more than one type of intellectual property right can be applied to the same creation.

The position now

During the transition period, EU law will continue to operate as it does now in the UK. The Intellectual Property (IP) system will continue as it is until 31 December 2020. There will be no disruption to IPO services or changes to the UK IP system during this transition period.

The position in 2021

The arrangements in the IP section of the Withdrawal Agreement take effect at the end of the transition period. These arrangements provide legal certainty and protect the interests of rights holders and users of the IP framework. The Withdrawal Agreement ensures continued protection of existing EU-level IP rights in the UK after the end of the transition period.

What steps can I take now?

Existing EU trademarks 

On 1 January 2021, the UK Intellectual Property Office will create a comparable UK trademark for every registered EU trade mark (EUTM). You will not need to pay for your equivalent or comparable UK trade mark – and there will be as little administration involved as possible.

Pending EU trademarks

If you have an EUTM application that’s still pending on 1 January 2021, you’ll need to apply to register a comparable UK trade mark in the 9 months after 1 January 2021.

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